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March 30, 2022 Meeting Minutes - Transition, ESY, MTSS, Complaints, Medicaid Updates

Updated: Mar 31

PALS Meeting Minutes

March 30, 2021 9:30 a.m.

Virtual Meeting using Zoom


Open Forum

Open Forum is an opportunity for participants to come together and discuss a variety of topics, offer resources, and ask questions related to special education.


Transitioning Back Into School

Before the pandemic, when we talked about transition it was from pre-K to elementary, elementary to middle, middle to high, and high to life after graduation, whether that was trade school, college, work, or other opportunities. Over the past two years we have talked at length about supporting students transitioning back into a traditional school setting. Families have often tried to work with schools on ways to reintroduce their child to the in-school setting. Often we've unsuccessful outcomes. Today we received a glimmer of hope with a family who worked hard to insure their school district adhered to the agreements made in the student's IEP about re-introduction to their home-school setting. The plan included the student starting out by attending elective courses and a literacy support class in school and completing academic course work at home. The plan will add academic courses as the weeks progress with the idea that the student will return to a full in-school schedule at the start of the next school year.


The family indicated that this plan was initial slated to begin a the second quarter of the 2021-2022 school year however the school district appeared to drag their feet. Not until the family put their foot down and with the help of an educational advocate reminded the school district that this plan was laid out in the student's IEP.


There is hope!


ESY

Although the general timeline for Extended School Year (ESY) determination and notice provided by tomorrow, it is always a good idea to remember a few things about the process and placement. When it comes to the process of determination it is important to remember, "There are seven factors, and no single factor can be used to determine eligibility for ESY services. The IEP team must consider all seven factors when determining eligibility. The student may be eligible by meeting just one of the criteria, but all seven factors must be considered by the IEP team."


Additionally, "The IEP team determines where ESY will be provided. It can be provided at many different places, like in school or at a job site. It is always provided in the least restrictive environment (LRE) that is appropriate for the student. This means that the student with disabilities is placed in a situation that allows opportunities to be with students who are not disabled. However, the school district, IU, or charter school is not required to assemble nondisabled students just to make the ESY environment less restrictive. ESY services can be provided in a noneducational setting if the IEP team determines that the student can receive appropriate ESY services in that setting."


"ESY services are provided in order that the student receives a free appropriate public education. Therefore, ESY services, including required special education and related services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, or transportation, must be provided at no cost to the parent."

"If an LEA elects to provide ESY services in a nontraditional setting such as a community recreation program, the parent could be assessed a fee for the “recreational portion” of a program that is not required for provision of FAPE, consistent with the fee charged to the parent of any child in the program. However, an LEA would have to exercise caution that other service delivery options to provide ESY services are available for those parents who are unable or unwilling to assume the costs of the recreational program."


Read more about Extended School Year (ESY) Services in Pennsylvania.


As it relates to FCASD, families have shared that the district has provided funds for outside ESY services for students. Families have also expressed that FCASD staff have told them they have never provided funds for outside ESY services. The former is more likely to be true than not.


MTSS/RTII

Friendly reminder! When you hear, "We do that for everyone." or "Your child is already receiving support." the school staff is more than likely talking about MTSS: Multi-Tiered System of Support, including RTII: Response to Instruction and Intervention. You can read more about this in our November 20217 Meeting Minutes including links to PaTTAN for more updated information.


MTSS and RTII are fantastic tools for helping all students. It is important to realize that in some cases school districts will use these internal, required tools to initially rebuff a family's request for supports more appropriate for an IEP or 504 Plan. Familiarizing yourself with MTSS and RTII will help you better understand how they are meant to be utilized for all students and think about how to better advocate for your child when you feel they need more.


Update on Cyber Charter

We've had a few conversations about cyber charter schools lately. The curriculum at CCA, Pennsylvania Cyber Charter Academy, seems to be less rigiorous than FCASD. It should be noted for students who require a enrichment, Honors and AP classes are available.


Filing a Complaint with PaDOE

Sometimes families can find themselves completely stuck within the school system as they advocate for their child to receive the services outlined in their IEP or 504 Plan. In some cases a complaint to the State Department of Education is warranted. The Pennsylvania Department of Education Complaint process is fairly straight-forward. For more information on the process of filing a complaint with the Pennsylvania Professional Standards and Practices Commission, please visit the PaDOE website here.


Advocates

In case you are new to the Special Needs and Special Education world, Advocates can be an enormous help when working to address the needs of your child in a school setting. The American University in Washington, D.C. offers this brief description, "Special education advocates help parents make sure a child's special needs are met. They help parents understand available services, interpret test results, and work with schools to plan individualized education programs (IEPs). For a student with special needs, learning concerns take many forms." Read a more in-depth description in this blog post from American University.


Some advocates are paid, others work for government or non-profit organizations which require no compensation or have a sliding pay-scale. You can find individual advocates and organizations on our Resource Page.


Medicaid Updates

Some may On February 24, 2022 the Pennsylvania Health Law Project & PEAL Center hosted the webinar Medicaid: Access to Physical Health & Behavioral Health Services for Children and Transition Age Youth. The focus of this webinar was:

- The difference between Medicaid managed care system and the Medicaid fee-for-service system.

- How to access physical and behavioral health services for children and transition age youth.

-The appeal process when services are prescribed but denied by Medicaid.


You can watch the entire Webinar here.


You can download the slides to this Webinar here.


 

Next Meeting: April 27, 2022 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom. Currently scheduled as Open Forum.

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SPECIAL NOTE

All meetings will be held virtually until further notice.


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